While the gun debate is at the top of the list, another debate is not far behind - violence in movies, TV and music. As people struggle to figure out what happened at Virginia Tech, they now have a source of frustration, one Cho Seung-Hui, a 23 year old South Korean national. Luckily we have more evidence to go by with a note found in Cho's dorm, but the details of that note are still shady.
So what pushed Cho to this extreme? Could it be related to an increase in violence in our media? To clarify - I say media because we can not only blame Hollywood, but must also include other media, such as cable news, in this group.
Watchdog groups have said violence in television has raised by astonishing numbers over the past several years. The same is true for movies and songs. True those are all fiction and our greatest source of violence comes from the not so obvious source.
Within hours of the massacre yesterday, CNN was playing a cell phone video of the scene. While the video was shot outside the building, you could still hear 27 distinctive shots. Of course all news outlets rushed to get this same footage on their airwaves. What good does that do the people in this country? Even more importantly - what good does it do to the loved ones of those who perished? Not a single thing, but in a world of 24 hour news cycles we now see CNN, MSNBC, FOX, as well as network news rushing to get that shock value.
Let's also take a look at the video game factor. It is no secret that games are becoming more graphic, as well as more violent. After Columbine there was a big debate about violent video games. The right wing has been outspoken on limiting the violence in video games. With that I want to offer up a little quiz, involving screen shots from two video games.
So which game is violent and should fall under the ban? Better yet - which video game would the Christian right push to be banned? Did you answer both? Well then you are wrong!
The game on the right is from the popular Grand Theft Auto 3. Remember the GTA series is one that the Christian right holds up as an example of violence.
The game on the left - well that is from Left Behind, a game where Christians go around and kill the non-believers. Every bit as bloody, graphic and violent (if not more) as GTA, but a game the Christian right rallies behind. Why? Because it is OK for them to portray violence against those who don't accept Christ as their savior. Sound familiar? What other religion promotes violence against non-believers? Oh yeah - Radical Islam!
This is the grandest of hypocrisy. We can't expose children to violence, unless it is violence against people who don't bow to their beliefs. Worse yet, a lot of Christian parents rally behind this belief.
Consider this. We have had a torture debate going on in this nation for some time now. A lot of the people who try to ban media violence also promote this action. In numerous cases we have tortured innocent people and the reason - they were Islamic and found in places we thought were bad. In other words - when fiction meets reality.
Now I do believe there could be a distinct relationship between the increase media violence and the increase in violent rampages such as this. Now we find our self on a delicate balance of first amendment rights. Does Hollywood have a right to produce violent movies? I would say so, but parents have an obligation to make sure their children don't see movies not rated for them, as well as explain a difference between right and wrong.
The biggest problem transcends our changing society over the past half century. The days of stay at home parents is over, with both parents working 40+ hours a week. In other words, the war on the middle class has taken another victim. Children are left unsupervised at younger ages and their parents aren't there to explain things to them.
Of course in the Republican fantasy world one parent should always be able to stay at home. Rick Santorum played this line over and over again, from his book to the campaign trail. With workers wages declining in this country and the cost of living skyrocketing, having a stay at home parent is a fantasy world.
Child care is also very expensive. Day care runs high, as well as babysitters. With that parents turn to electronic babysitters; things such as the internet, video game or DVDs. Again this exposes the child to violence and no one is there to explain things. Young, impressionable minds are left to the wolves via the ones who gave them life.
So what this boils down to is that our society as a whole is broken. We have an increase in violence that our children are exposed to, but also a decrease in attention from their parents. But where do we start to fix it? That is the other big debate that we must have in the wake of this tragedy. As time goes by and the investigation continues, we might also receive answers to what provoked Cho to do this. He could have been some metal thrashing head banger who played these games, or he could have been a quit person that kept to his self and engage in this behavior. Time will tell and either answer will not shock me.
Hopefully we can use this tragedy to learn more about what happened.
Update from the first post.
In my first post on the tragedy I talked about gun control. Well now we are starting to get answers. It has been learned that Cho bought the guns legally. The right quickly says gun control laws won't prevent these because of the number of guns on the street illegally. We see in more and more of these cases however that the guns were purchased legally. So are the current laws working? Well consider this.
Cho purchased the guns illegally. He was also on anti-depressant drugs and had a history of problems; including setting fire to his dorm room. That means the background check is not working.
These revelations add further proof to the fact we need stricter gun laws in our nation.